National Academy of Public Administration Fall Meeting Highlights

Today I was at the National Academy of Public Administration’s annual fall meeting. I attended a few sessions of their meeting, and wanted to report back to the GovLoop community. At the conference, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people who have spent their lives dedicated to public service. Every session contained fascinating speakers, interesting conversations and touched on the biggest policy challenges facing government at all levels.

One session I attended, Rethinking Disaster Management and Recovery With Less Public Resources for Support – Innovations in Public/Private Sector Coalitions and Partnerships, contained a lot of interesting information. The speakers on the panel were Ron Carlee, Director, ICMA Domestic Strategic Initiatives and Executive in Residence, Mark Cyganiak, President, ServiceMaster Recovery Services, and Governor Scott McCallum, President and CEO, The Aidmatrix Foundation.

Governor McCallum identified that every crisis is local and unique, and articulated the importance of understanding the culture of each community. The panel also identified the importance of collaboration, sharing resources and the correct role of the Federal government. The panel stated that recovery is always longer and more expensive than initial response during a crisis.

This panel reminded me of a quote, “Plans mean nothing, planning is everything.” I can see this quote being applicable during a crisis. Things are moving fast, there is high level of uncertainty, and more than likely you can never be completely prepared during a crisis. The important part is making sure that a community knows where the resources are, who the contractors are, and what the terms of engagement will be when entering a community to help with recovery. Communities need to know the logistics of how to provide resources within the community.

At the conference, there was also a lengthy discussion of the book, Moving to Opportunity: The Story of An American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty. The authors of the book, Xavier de Souza Briggs, Susan J. Popkin and John Goering all shared their experiences writing and researching the book, and opened the floor for discussions. The book sounds fascinating, as it profiles one of the many policy challenges in America, persistent ghetto poverty.

The final session I attended was related to human capital during a crisis. The panel consisted of Linda Springer, Executive Director, Government and Public Sector Advisory Services Practice, Ernst and Young, Christine Gibbs Springer, Executive Director, Master’s Program in Emergency and Crisis Management, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and, Robert Reisner, former Vice President for Strategic Planning, US Postal Service.

The panel had a fascinating discussion on what skills are needed by leadership during a crisis. The panel stated collaboration, communication, and the ability to develop continuity between operations are all critical to leadership during a crisis. Other interesting observations from this panel were that often people involved in emergency management are performing multiple jobs, and there is a need for more staffing on emergency management teams. The panel also mentioned that learning how to effectively leverage emerging new technologies will be critical to leadership during a crisis.

Overall, the National Academy of Public Administration had a great conference, with a lot of really interesting topics and speakers, and I was glad I had the chance to attend.

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